NEVADA, Mo. — Today is a special day for Veterans of the Vietnam War.
“As the son of a Vietnam Veteran, I’ve seen some of the struggles that the Veterans can go through,” said Jason Meisenheimer, Past Exalted Ruler of the Nevada Elks Lodge.
It’s National Vietnam Veterans Day.
The Elks Lodge in Nevada hosted a benefit fair to honor local Veterans.
This year marks the 50th anniversary since the last combat troops left South Vietnam.
“I was on a Navy destroyer and we did gunfire support in Vietnam,” said Keith Hammontree, Vietnam Veteran.
Vietnam Veteran Keith Hammontree says that his four years in Vietnam were exhausting.
“My bunk was right beside the gun turret so I didn’t get much sleep and I was a radar man, so I got to see where we were shooting and what was happening. We were about three miles off the coast,” said Hammontree.
Keith says during his term he made many cruises across the world.
“It’s a little different, I was very lucky that I got to make the Vietnam cruise, and I also got to make a Mediterranean cruise so I got to see the difference between the people in the far East and the people in Europe. And to me, the people in the far East treated us a lot better than the people in Europe,” said Hammontree.
Today holds a special place for Keith’s entire family.
“My mother comes from a family of 11, and every one of her brothers served in either the Army or the Navy, so we’re a Military family, and that’s what it’s all about. The people have freedom because we fought in the war,” said Hammontree.
Keith says he will never forget some of his friends that never made it back.
“A lot of my friends my age didn’t make it back from over there, and I’m always very sorry,” said Hammontree.